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20101208_Leopard_Tortoise_Santa_Barbara_Zoo.jpg

Leopard Tortoise (Geochelone pardalis)

(101 views)
by Terry Costales

A very large, old Leopard Tortoise sunned itself that afternoon.

20100519_California_Sea_Lion_Elkhorn_Slough.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

A very large male sea lion with a much smaller female.

20100326_Sea_Otter_With_Shell.jpg

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

A lone individual popped up out of the water after a dive for food. We suspected he has a clam grasped in his paws. Otters love shellfish.

20100604_Demure_California_Sea_Lion.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

A female sea lion tried to appear very demure.

20100526_Sea_Otter_Plate_On_Stomach.jpg

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

The otter balanced his "plate" on his stomach while enjoying that last little morsel.

20100604_Young_Sleepy_California_Sea_Lion.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

A very young sea lion was sleepily curious about his observers.

20100318_Raft_of_Sea_Otter.jpg

Raft of Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(100 views)
by Terry Costales

For an unforgettable wildlife experience, I highly recommend the Elkhorn Slough Safari in Moss Landing. We saw over one hundred sea otters, almost eighty harbor seals and dozens of sea lions very up close and personal. This photo shows a raft of about eighty sea otters. Raft is the official label for a bunch of otters hanging out together, looking like a raft. In addition to sea mammals, I also photographed sixteen species of birds. The trip was two hours of wildlife bliss. There were a few . . .

20100321_Brown_Pelican.jpg

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

It was beautiful day in Santa Cruz and I had been photographing the sea lions when this pelican landed a few feet away on the pier railing. If there was ever a compelling visual argument for birds being the modern descendants of dinosaurs, it's the pelican. I could easily imagine them flying just out of reach above the snapping jaws of some aquatic sea monster.

20100427_Sea_Lions_Under_Wharf.jpg

Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Sea Lions swam in and out of sunlight and shade beneath the wharf in Santa Cruz.

20100402_Sea_Lion_Swimming.jpg

Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

This photo shows a sea lion swimming in the late afternoon sunlight beneath the wharf in Santa Cruz. Lovely light on a lovely animal.

20100102.jpg

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

This is a photo of what appears to be a male Monarch butterfly. Male because it has two extra dots on its back wings that produce pheromones. Another obscure fact I learned from Wikipedia.

20100513_California_Sea_Lion_Family_Portrait.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

To our left as we exited the harbor and entered the slough, we saw an old pier covered with sea lions. We slowly motored past them. It was quite satisfying to be at their level and so close to them. I feel like I ended up with a family portrait instead of a wildlife photo.

20100511_Sea_Otter_Grooming_Traps_Air.jpg

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Sea Otters appeared to spend a great deal of their time grooming themselves. They use their bodies as tables, so have to keep food scraps washed off. While they clean, they also push and sometimes blow air bubbles into their fur. The extra air trapped in their fur contributes to their buoyancy and increases insulation.

20101202_Blue_and_Gold_Macaw_Santa_Barbara_Zoo.jpg

Blue-and-Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

A loud, large, parrot looking quite handsome.

20100521_California_Sea_Lion_Male_Close_Up.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Close up of a male sea lion. According to Wiki, "Zalophus californianus" means "Californian big-head" because a male grows a crest of bone on top of his head that causes a bulging forehead.

20100127_American_Avocet.jpg

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

A female avocet sits on her eggs. When the tide comes in this nest will barely be above the water.

20100616_Snowy_Egret_Stalked_Great_Egret.jpg

Snowy Egret and Great Egret

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

The larger Great Egret was stalked by the smaller Snowy Egret.

20101108.jpg

Black-crowned Night Heron

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

This bedraggled juvenile black-crowned night heron was perched on the dock near the boat we were going to use. I hoped it wasn't a harbinger of how our trip would turn out.

20100517_Sea_Otter_Paparazzi.jpg

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Here is another otter grooming or maybe he is thinking "oh, not another boatload of paparazzi!"

20100601_Sea_Lion_King_Of_Mountain.jpg

California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

King of the mountain and he knows it.

20100320_Raft_of_Sea_Otter.jpg

Raft of Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

This photo shows just part of a very large raft of otters we saw in the Elkhorn Slough. The older individuals had light faces, and such cute faces they were.

20100717_Scrub_Jay_Sherman_Island_California.jpg

Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

A Scrub Jay on a barbecue searched for food.

20100101.jpg

Macaws

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Two Macaws preening one another. A very intimate, gentle moment in a birds' life.

20100413_Sea_Otter_Persuade.jpg

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

This is one otter trying to persuade another otter to share its meal. It wasn't very successful.

20100324_Brants_Cormorant.jpg

Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)

(99 views)
by Terry Costales

Brandt's cormorants were the most numerous of the three species of cormorants seen that day. The slender white plumes on its face and the blue patch on its throat only appear during breeding season. The red color seen in this photo is not part of the cormorant but was from a nearby pelican.

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